Data Reporter Gary Rogers shares this latest news as part of the OnTheWight’s collaboration with Press Association and Urbs Media.
We contacted Isle of Wight council eight days ago with three simple question about this important matter. We’ve also asked for a comment from the Cabinet member responsible, Cllr Paul Brading. At the time of publishing they had failed to provide any answers. We received a reply two hours after publishing. Ed
Nearly one in five of the social workers dealing with children and families in Isle of Wight left their jobs in the 12 months up to September last year, government figures reveal.
Statistics published by the Department for Education show that the turnover rate, that’s the proportion of the full-time workforce that left, was 18.1% in these crucial roles protecting vulnerable children.
Experienced people leaving
The largest group of leavers was those who had been in the job for two to five years.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) aid that turnover rates were higher than in comparable professions and were an indication of the working environment and the daily pressures facing social workers.
Equivalent of 73 full-time staff at IWC
The council employs the equivalent of 73 full-time staff, with some full-time posts shared by part-time workers. The figures show that last autumn there were six vacancies, three of these were being covered by agency workers.
Maris Stratulis, England Manager at the BASW, said,
“It is imperative that we address the instability in the workforce and create safer working environments for social workers where their workloads are manageable. We also need to address other issues such as good career progression, effective support and supervision.”
Only 1/3 of full-time staff on children and families cases
Social workers dealing directly with children and families make up just 37% of the full-time staff.
The rest are in management roles or are newly qualified so not given responsibility for cases.
IW case loads nearly quarter higher than English average
The average caseload for each full-time social worker dealing directly with cases was 21.8, which is above the average rate for England of 17.8 cases.
The BASW said that caseload numbers failed to show the full picture as they didn’t take account of the complexity of some cases where multiple children from the same family might be living in different locations with different care solutions but would be the responsibility of a single case holder.
Ms Stratulis said:
“The pressures on children’s social workers are at times untenable as they are given unmanageable caseloads, work well over their hours and inevitably carry the stress of something going wrong on their caseload.
“We know only too well that the stakes are very high.”
After we published, the council sent the following in response to us asking:
1) Why is this figure so large?
2) What does the council put this down to?
3) What are IWC doing to counter this?
We also added – Could you also ask the Cabinet member responsible:
1) Are they concerned about this and
2) What have they put in place to change it?
Their response was:
A council spokesperson said:
“The workforce figure should not be used in isolation.
“During the 12 months up to 30 September 2017, the turnover rate of children’s social workers on the Isle of Wight was 4.5 per cent higher than the England average.
“Reasons for changing role, included in these figures, include promotions and retirements.
“However, the vacancy rate was 9.4 per cent below the England average and the agency social worker rate was 7 per cent below.
“These figures show that effective action has been taken to ensure the stability of the workforce in this key area.”
Cllr Paul Brading, cabinet member for children’s services, said:
“We are achieving our aim of a stable workforce, which will benefit our vulnerable young people.
“This is supported by the robust recruitment and retention policies we adhere too.
“There is always natural turnover of staff but I am confident in the way we manage this in the council.”